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Ohio congressman’s niece among those killed in Itaewon crush

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Republican U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio [REUTERS]
Republican U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio [REUTERS]

Ohio congressman Brad Wenstrup said one of the two Americans who died in central Seoul’s Itaewon on Oct. 29 in the Halloween crush was his niece, in a statement on Monday.

“Monica and I, and our entire family, are grieving the loss of our niece Anne Marie Gieske. She was a gift from God to our family. We loved her so much,” Wenstrup said.

Anne Gieske, 20, of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, died from the crowd crush in Itaewon on Saturday.

Gieske was a nursing student at the University of Kentucky, who came to Korea for an exchange semester at Hanyang University this fall.

“We are completely devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Anne Marie. She was a bright light loved by all. We ask for your prayers but also the respect of our privacy,” Gieske’s parents said in a statement.

“Anne’s final gift to us was dying in the state of sanctifying grace. We know we will one day be reunited with her in God’s kingdom.”

The University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto also grieved the loss. “There aren’t adequate or appropriate words to describe the pain of a beautiful life cut short. It isn’t fair, nor is it comprehensible. It is loss and it hurts in ways that are impossible to articulate,” he said.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul reported that two U.S. citizens died in the tragedy and three were injured.

Steven Blesi was the other American killed in the Halloween crowd surge. He was a junior at Kennesaw State University in Georgia who also came to Korea as an exchange student.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that at least 26 foreigners died in the tragedy.

BY KIM EUN-BIN, CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]